Dangling carrots

In 1805, there were 15 corporations. The average American owned one pair of pants, 2 shirts and one pair of shoes.

There were two major problems in order for the industrial economy to grow to what it is today.

First, we had a shortage of workers. How were we going to train people to work inside a factory, do what their told, work faster and cheaper from the day before, while making a profit?

And second, how can we get people to buy all this stuff?

The solution, of course, was public school. Train people to sit in the same spot all day, follow instructions and be rewarded. At the same time, create social pressures to keep up with the Jones’s.

This worked great for a long time. We all got very rich, technology grew and our lifestyles got better.

Now, two centuries later, we have a new problem.

At some point, we can’t get faster. At some point, we can’t continue to get cheaper. At some point, we hit the bottom.

And people are starting to realize,that the endless cycle of accumulation is actually endless. The promise of a good job after years of debt accumulation isn’t such a good deal. The carrot being dangled is out of reach.

So as we approach the bottom, a revolution is taking place. (Just in time.)

No longer are people satisfied with average products for average people.

The alternative is to race to the top.

I think we need to spend some time wrestling with this idea of what’s bringing us meaning. Or rather, can we do work that is meaningful?

Because more isn’t enough.